The Dynamics of the
Everlasting Gospel

By E.H. “Jack” Sequeira

Chapter 7 – The Joyous Experience of Salvation

The gospel may be described as the plan of salvation, and this plan has already been prepared and provided in Jesus Christ. This is what we have studied in Chapters 2-4 when we considered the objective gospel. That is to say, in studying the objective gospel, we look at the plan of salvation as God has worked it out for us in His Son, and as such, it is a finished work. Everything necessary for our salvation, whether it be from the guilt and punishment of sin, or the power of sin, or even the curse of sin, all has already been fulfilled in Christ.

But now we must consider the doctrine of salvation from man’s point of view, or salvation as a subjective experience. As was emphasized in our last study, the objective gospel becomes real in the experience of the believer, otherwise the truth of this gospel remains merely a set of teachings or doctrines void of any power. This, unfortunately, is the situation of the church today.

In studying the doctrine of salvation as a personal experience, we will define salvation, consider what is involved in being saved, and look at the relationship between salvation as an objective fact and salvation as a subjective experience.

Salvation Defined

To many, salvation is looked upon as being delivered from death unto eternal life, or from hell into heaven. While this is true, we will discover that salvation involves much more than this. For in being saved, a radical change takes place both in our position as well as our status. This is something that all must clearly understand.

By birth, we are in Adam. This is our natural position; and, as we saw in the study of the Two Adams (Chapter 4), this position is a hopeless one, since in Adam “all have sinned” (Romans 5:12) and “all die” (1 Corinthians 15:22). However, the moment we from the heart respond to the good news of the gospel, immediately we are delivered from our position in Adam and are now, by faith, united to Christ. This does not only mean a radical change in position from “in Adam” to “in Christ,” but this also involves a radical change in status. For in Adam we belonged to this world, or were of this world; that is to say, as children of Adam we were by birth and nature citizens of this world, which, in turn, is totally under Satan’s control (John 14:30; 1 John 5:19). And the world is also doomed to destruction (2 Peter 3:9, 10).

But now, being in Christ by faith, we are no longer of this world (John 15:19; 17:14, 16), but have been delivered from this present evil world through the cross of Christ (Galatians 1:4). Hence, the apostle Paul could declare: “But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world” (Galatians 6:14).

Salvation, therefore, may be defined as an exodus from this world which is under the control and dominion of Satan, into the church which belongs to the kingdom of God and is under the rule of Christ. This great truth was, in fact, revealed in times of old in the exodus of God’s people from Egypt into Canaan, Egypt being a type of the world and Canaan a type of the church.

When the Israelites crossed the Red Sea, which symbolized baptism (see 1 Corinthians 10:1, 2), they said good-bye forever to Egypt (the world) and Pharoah (symbol of Satan); and when they entered Canaan, the promised land, it was a type of the church which belonged to the realm of God.

It is for this reason the New Testament writers purposely chose the term “ekklesia” to identify the people of God. This Greek word, which in our English Bible is translated “the church” is a most interesting one. It is made up of two words which, when put together, reveal a most important truth. The two words are “ek,” which means “out of,” and “klesia,” which means “called people.” These two words put together define the church as “a called out people.” Believers are, therefore, a called out people; but the question we must ask is, from what are we called out? And the answer is, the world. Jesus made this clear in John 15:19, “Ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of [ek] the world.”

All this throws important light on the definition of salvation and has important implications to us. The first is that, as Christians, we no longer belong to this world, but have become the citizens of heaven. And in view of the fact that Satan, “the prince of this world,” is at war with Christ the Lord of heaven, then, as Christians, we have become strangers living in enemy territory. For this reason, Jesus declared that the world must hate us and persecute us (John 15:19; 1 John 3:13). If it is not doing that, it is not because the world has changed but simply because the world does not really see Christ in us (2 Tim. 3:12).

Secondly, as citizens of heaven, all ties with the world must come to an end. Hence all national and tribal pride must go, for in Christ “there is neither Jew nor Greek.” All class distinction must go, for “there is neither bond nor free,” and even our status symbols must come to an end for “there is neither male nor female, for ye are all one in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:28). Further, while it is true we are to be the salt and the light of the world (Matthew 5:13, 14), nevertheless, as Christians we are not to have partnership with the world. The apostle James makes this very clear: “Know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? Whosoever, therefore, will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God” (4:4; see also 1:27).

Finally, to be saved in Christ means to say good-bye to the root of all evil which is “the love of money” (read 1 Tim. 6:10). The vital ingredient that makes this world run is money, and the love of money is at the center of all lust. Money in and of itself is not evil, otherwise the church would have no right to touch it; and as Christians living in the world we need money; but it is the love of money that is the root of all evil. This is because the love of money is clear evidence that we have not let go of our self-life which the cross of Christ demands of us and, therefore, the lust of the flesh is still dominating us.

One good evidence that any one can have whether he be poor or rich that he is truly in Christ and has tasted salvation, is his relationship to money. For this reason God has introduced His program or system of paying tithes and offerings (see Mal. 3:8, 9). If we are truly saved in Christ, paying tithes and offerings will be a delight, no matter what our financial situation is.

On the other hand, if our faith in Christ is self-centered and not motivated by love, this will clearly show in our withholding tithes and offerings, for our lives will contradict the truth of the gospel, which truth Jesus clearly stated when He declared, “It is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35; see also 2 Corinthians 5:7).

It is not our money which God wants, it is us. The cross of Christ demands that we totally belong to God, for we have been bought by the precious blood of His Son (see 1 Peter 1:18, 19; 1 Corinthians 6:20; 2 Peter 2:1). But how can God or His church really know that we have truly surrendered ourselves to Him, which is what genuine faith demands? It is by our tithes and offerings. When we fail in this, we are truly robbing God of what is rightfully His, and that is ourselves. The one great reason why the church is so poor financially today is because it is full of members whose faith is a pretence, a faith that is egocentric, rather than that which worketh by love. Oh, that God might open our eyes that we might see ourselves as we really are, “wretched and miserable, and poor and blind and naked” (Rev. 3:17).

Salvation and Baptism

When Jesus commissioned His disciples to go into all the world and preach the gospel, He made it very clear to them that “he that believeth and and is baptized shall be saved” (Mark 16:15, 16). Why did Christ include baptism as a necessary part of salvation? This is a most important question and one that every Christian must be able to answer, since it is vitally connected to salvation. Too often we get so involved in what constitutes the right mode of baptism that the true significance of baptism is lost sight of, much to the delight of the enemy of souls.

Baptism in and of itself does not save us, but it is what it stands for that is vital. Between the church of Christ and the world of Satan stands the cross of Christ and this cross to which we have become identified by faith and baptism eternally separates us from this doomed world. This is what the Bible means by being saved or washed “by water” (1 Corinthians 6:11; Ephesians 5:26; Titus 3:5; Rev. 1:5).

When we turn to 1 Peter 3:20, 21, we get the true significance of baptism. In verse 20, the apostle Peter declares that at the time of the flood only “eight souls were saved by water.” Then in verse 21 he links this with our baptism, “the like figure whereunto even baptism doth also now save us.” In order to see the connection between these two statements, we need to ask ourselves, From what was Noah and his family saved at the time of the flood? Was it not from this doomed world? God came to Noah and instructed him to build an ark because He was about to destroy the antediluvian world by water. For 120 years Noah built the ark while, at the same time, he preached to a lost world to enter it.

Now this ark was built and rested on the earth, but when the flood came every living thing was drowned, only Noah and his family with all the animals on board the ark rode the waters and were saved. This experience eternally separated Noah and his family from the wicked world of which they were a part. The ark was a type of the church of Christ which will one day ascend into heaven when this wicked world will be destroyed by fire. To enter this church, we must pass through the waters of baptism that eternally separates us from this wicked, doomed world to which we belong by natural birth. Baptism, therefore, rightly is defined as the door through which we make our exit from this present wicked, doomed world and enter the church of Christ which is destined for heaven.

According to Romans 6:3, 4, baptism symbolizes our union with Christ crucified, buried, and resurrected. And just as Christ’s death was unto sin and this world (see Romans 6:10; Galatians 1:4), so likewise by our union with Christ crucified and buried, we are saying good-bye forever to sin and this wicked world. When we enter the waters of baptism, we are by this ordinance actually taking part in our own funeral service, made real to us by faith in the cross of Christ, so that we along with our whole wicked world, to which we were a part, are forever buried in the waters of baptism.

And as Christ rose from the dead apart from sin, so also we in Christ arise out of the water as new beings to serve God in newness of life. Hence, baptism is a public confession of our faith by or through which we have become dead and our life is now hid in Christ Jesus (Colossians 3:3). This is what salvation is about, which the ordinance of baptism symbolizes.

Let every believer, therefore, bear in mind that it is not the act of baptism that saves us, but it is our surrender or submission to the truth revealed in baptism that saves us. There are many who, unfortunately, think that because they were baptized the Biblical way (that is, by immersion), that this in and of itself saves them. This is a deception, for the act of baptism, no matter how correctly it is performed, cannot save us. We must not fall into the same error the Jews made. For example, they put the emphasis on the act of circumcision instead of its significance (see Jer. 4:4; Romans 2:29; Colossians 2:11). Baptism by immersion becomes important and of value only as to what it signifies, and this we must always bear in mind; that it is what baptism symbolizes: our union by faith to Christ crucified, buried, and resurrected. This saves us and not the act itself.

Saved Into the Church

Men and women are saved by the gospel primarily, not from hell into heaven, or death into eternal life, but from the world into the church. The first step in man’s salvation as a subjective experience is always from the world into the church. In order to save us, the cross of Christ must deliver us from the world which is hostile to God and under condemnation, into the church which is the body of Christ. Every other aspect of salvation is based upon this fact. Christ will never take us to heaven to enjoy the heavenly life as individuals but as members of His church.

It is for this reason that the church on earth is Christ’s supreme concern (Ephesians 5:27). Those who have already ascended into heaven, such as Enoch, Moses, and Elijah, are but the first-fruits of those who belong to the corporate body of Christ, for whom Christ is preparing a place, for whom He will come at the second advent. Salvation, therefore, begins with being delivered from the world into the church.

When we were of the world, we belonged to a nation or tribe or to a certain section of society. As such we were very much a part of that which goes to make up the world. But, as Christians, we have said good-bye to all this—buried it in the waters of baptism. The cross of Christ forbids anything that is of self and of this world to cross over into the church, “for by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have all been made to drink into one Spirit” (1 Corinthians 12:13).

Yet it is a great tragedy to see so much of the world creeping into or infiltrating the church today. We are copying its fashions, accepting its philosophy, and also depending upon its resources. All this is a contradiction to the gospel of Christ; and this is because the church has lost sight of the true meaning of the doctrine of salvaiton. No wonder that the church is so weak and can hardly be distinguished from the world. When Christ was here on earth, He was a stranger and a sojourner. He was in the world and witnessed the truth to the world, but He was not of the world. And all that was true of Him, must become true of the Christian, and the church of which we have become a part.

“For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith” (1 John 5:4, 5).

Every believer must realize that to be saved means that we are on the one hand saying good bye to all that is of the world, and on the other hand have become a vital part of the church. According to the New Testament, the key definition of the church is “the body of Christ” (Romans 12:2-5; 1 Corinthians 12:27; Ephesians 1:19-23; Colossians 1:24). A Christian is one who by faith has become a vital part or member of this body. This in fact was what Christ had in mind when He introduced the element of the bread into the ordinance of the Lord’s Supper. “For we being many are one bread, and one body; for we are all partakers of that one bread” (1 Corinthians 10:17).

When we look at salvation in the light of this truth, we will discover that it has important implications regarding how we live the Christian life. While we were of the world, we could live more or less as we pleased since this world, developed by Satan, is founded upon the principle of self-love.

But now, as Christians and vital parts of Christ’s body, no longer can we think and do things our own way. The law or principle of the body demands that we live entirely under the authority and dependance of the head which is Christ (Ephesians 5:23; Colossians 1:18). In other words, just as the various members of the human body are under the full control of the head, so also we as Christians must also be under the full control of Christ. Anything outside of this is a contradiction to the plan of salvation.

If all Christians would have their eyes opened to this fact and submit themselves to this truth, the church would be naturally or without any human endeavor perfectly united and demonstrating the life of Christ. Once again to use Paul’s illustration of the human body as a type of the church (see 1 Corinthians 12:14-25), we know that the reason why there is perfect coordination and unity in the human body is that it does nothing whatsoever in and of itself but lives entirely under the direction of the head. Likewise, the church being a corporate body of Christ will experience a similar unity and coordination when the various members of the body, which comprises the individual believers, will do nothing whatsoever in and of themselves but will live entirely under the directions of Christ alone.

When this is realized we will not only experience perfect coordination and unity in the church, which is the most powerful form of witnessing (see John 13:35; 17:20, 21), but we will also discover that every believer, without exception, has an important function within the framework of the body. Thus, while “all members have not the same office,” nevertheless all members have a vital part to play in the function of the church:

“Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, whether prophecy, let us prophesy according to the proportion of faith; or ministry, let us wait on our ministering or he that teacheth, on teaching; or he that exhorteth, on exhortation; he that giveth, let him do it with simplicity; he that sheweth mercy, with cheerfulness” (Romans 12:4, 6-8; 1 Corinthians 12:12-25).

Further, we will discover when this truth is realized that every believer will have great regard for the work of other believers and have deep concern for the welfare and needs of his fellow brethren; so that there will be no “schism in the body; but that the members should have the same care for another. And whether one member suffer, all the members suffer with it, or one member be honored, all the members rejoice with it” (1 Corinthians 12:25, 26).

Again the church understood and functioning as the body of Christ will also develop, just as the human body grows and develops. In Ephesians 4:11-13, we read that when Christ ascended into heaven, He bestowed gifts on the body: “And He gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; as some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ.”

The world under Satan has been developing for approximately the last six thousand years, likewise the church too must develop so that where sin abounds grace must much more abound (Romans 5:20). The more Satan demonstrates the power of sin and self, so also the more must God demonstrate the power of the gospel, or love, through the church. In the great controversy between Christ and Satan we know that Satan is a defeated foe, but Christ’s victory must be demonstrated through the church, and it will be demonstrated at the end of time.

Today, much that is of the world is camouflaged so that even Christians are unaware of the fact that “the whole world lieth in the evil one” (1 John 5:19 RSV), and therefore are caught off-guard. But the time is coming and is almost here, when it will be seen that “all the world wondered after the beast. And they worshiped the dragon [the devil] which gave power unto the beast” (Rev. 18:1).

At that time this earth will be lightened with the glory of God through the church (Rev. 18:1). It is this demonstration that must take place before Christ can return again. The world today is indeed ripe for the end, but, unfortunately, the church is not, and God is patiently waiting for His people to repent and seek His face with all their hearts. That is why the true gospel must be restored urgently to God s people so that it may become in reality “the power of God unto salvation.”

The Scope of Salvation

The angel of the Lord declared to Joseph, “And thou shalt call his name Jesus: for He shall save His people from their sins” (Matthew 1:21). For this purpose did Christ come into the world, that He might save us totally and completely from sin. And having prepared salvation full and complete for the lost human race, He ascended up to His Father. We saw all this in studying the objective gospel, but our concern now is, how is this salvation dispensed to us who have responded positively to the Good News?

Unfortunately, many Christians have a limited knowledge of the plan of salvation as already prepared and finished in Christ Jesus (the objective gospel). Consequently their subjective experience is in turn limited. For this reason, most Christians are somewhat embarrassed when asked the simple question, “Are you saved?” In fact those that ask the question are very often themselves ignorant of the full scope of the plan of salvation.

While all that is necessary for our salvation from sin is already an accomplished fact in Christ, we will discover that salvation as a subjective experience is a past, present, and future reality. We have already seen that in Christ we have been saved from the guilt and punishment of sin, the power of sin, and the presence and curse of sin. This is the position of all who by faith are in Christ. But when it comes to these things being a reality in our lives, these three aspects of salvation are not received at one and the same time. It is true that all three are guaranteed to the believer who is resting in Christ,but God does not dispense them to us at the same time; instead we experience these things in three stages.

The first is at conversion, when the believer is united to Christ by faith. The moment our union with Christ is realized we are already saved from the guilt and punishment of sin, and are declared perfectly righteous. This is what it means to be in a justified state.

However, this does not mean that we have been saved experientially from the power or grip of sin; this is to be a present continuous experience which must be realized daily as we now continue to live by faith or walk after the Spirit. This is the second stage of our salvation which is referred to as the process of sanctification, and which must continue as long as we live.

Then, at the second advent, all believers will be redeemed or saved from the curse and presence of sin. This, of course, is the blessed hope to which we look forward (Tit. 2:15; Romans 8:19-25).

So, then, a Christian may say with confidence that he is saved on the one hand, but at the same time he must confess that he is being saved, and that he will be saved. Yes, as believers we are already saved from all condemnation and, therefore, have peace with God (Romans 5:1; 8:1); but at the same time we are being saved from indwelling sin as we continue to “fight the good fight of faith” (1 Tim. 6:12). And, finally, we look forward to His glorious appearing when we shall be saved from the corruption of sin that has infiltrated every member of our bodies (1 Corinthians 15:51-57; Philippians 3:20-21).

This being the full scope of the plan of salvation, our hope as Christians is not limited to this life. For this reason, Paul declared to the Corinthians, “If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable,” (1 Corinthians 15:19). Our hope is not only in this life (see Colossians 1:27), but above all in the life to come. To stop at our past salvation is to receive only one-third of the gospel. As Christians, not only must we rejoice that eternal life and heaven is ours, but “every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure” (1 John 3:3; Romans 13:14; Galatians 5:16).

And, finally, let us comfort and help each other, looking forward to that glorious day when He shall appear to take us to the heavenly home where we shall experience the full salvation made available to us in Christ Jesus.

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